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When graphene burst onto the scene several years ago, scientists and tech enthusiasts both hailed it as the breakthrough in material engineering that would drive the next generation of semiconductor technology. The truth has been more complicated — for all graphene’s promise, it’s proven more difficult to engineer than many expected. Now, a team of researchers is claiming to have solved some of graphene’s difficult manufacturing problems and believes they can commercialize the approach.

To date, mass manufacturing and defect control have been major issues for all graphene manufacturing, to the point that it’s hampered research simply because getting enough high-quality, defect-free graphene for experimentation is both time consuming and expensive. What this new effort has discovered is a method for creating graphene (the paper actually refers to a “a carbon nanosheet with properties similar to graphene”). The researchers worked with a material they call PIM-1 — a polymer of “intrinsic microporosity. The material was then prepared via spin-coating and heat treatment on a quartz substrate before being used as electrodes within solar cells.

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